I’ve mentioned before that there is a woman that works at my local Chapters that is excellent at recommending great books. She told me to read Valley of the Dolls and when I finally took her advice, I found that she was right on – it was a delicious read.
Around the same time she recommended Rita Leganski’s The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow. I listened to her politely, made a show of picking up the book and reading the description before silently excusing myself to peruse on my own.
But her recommendation stuck with me and I finally ended up reading the book.
She is so good at recommending books you guys. The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow is exquisite.
Bonaventure Arrow is born a couple of months after the death of his father. His mother’s grief touches him in utero and he’s born without a voice. Instead of the ability to speak, Bonaventure has incredible hearing- he can hear the story of how a rock came to be in his back garden, the torment in the soul of a disturbed wanderer, the sneer of his Grandma Roman as she drives up to the house.
Bonaventure can also hear his father’s voice. His father needs his help to find his way to heaven – Bonaventure’s dad needs to complete three challenges: forgive his killer, release his wife from the guilt she feels and finally, he needs to be able to let go of his family so that they and he can move on.
I read in the afterword that it took Leganski three years to write this book and it shows. The language in this book is wonderful – you can feel the sounds that Bonaventure hears, experience the heartbreak of Bonaventure’s mother Dancy and Grand-mere Letice, and believe the voodoo/hoodoo that takes this story to the realm of the mystic.
I loved this book. I couldn’t wait to get back to it every time I had to put it down. Bonaventure Arrow is one of the sweetest, most perceptive little boys I’ve come across in fiction. This story is rooted in sorrow and violence but it’s ultimately about love. There’s a good dose of mystery in this one too – who killed William Arrow? Was it random? Or was there a connection between something that happened to Letice years ago?
I finished this book in bed in the dark with tears running down my face freely. And I couldn’t fall asleep for a long time afterward thinking about the Arrows and what their (fictional) futures held in store for them. If you’re in a book rut, if you’re looking for something beautifully written, if you love books with a hint of magic, you need to read The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow.
Chapters lady strikes again.